Sorry folks, nothing to whine about here today. Life is going pretty well. We’ve been making a lot progress on the home, so I’m providing an update today.
PS: If you saw this post on Wednesday, it is because I am unable to read a calendar. I hope to learn this skill some day.
We don’t discuss our early retirement dreams much with our normal circle of friends. Most people are uncomfortable or get plain bored talking about such things. However, a couple of our neighbors know. Last year, I was changing one of the car’s oil when I had the following conversation:
- Neighbor: You’re always working on stuff. If you have so much money that you can almost retire, why don’t you pay others to do it all?
- Me: Well, I have enough money to retire because I do all of this work myself.
I also enjoy most of the work. Well, not changing oil. I have a genetic deficiency which prevents me from changing the oil without spilling at least half of it all over the place. Often, I look like the creature from the black lagoon by the time I’m done. Hopefully, geneticists locate this gene and come up with a cure. Until then, you know why our driveway is covered with kitty litter. (Mrs. 1500 note: I only wish he was making this up or exaggerating the extent of the mess he makes. Every. Single. Time. Sigh…)
I do enjoy home improvement though. It’s fun to take an old, ugly room and turn it into something great. Since I’m the designer and worker, I can do everything just how I like it. Another huge benefit of being a DIY master is that you don’t have to deal with contractors who:
- don’t show up (50% chance)
- show you their awful buttcrack (98%)
- do subpar work (84%)
The Master Bathroom (aka The Dinosaur Bathroom)
You wouldn’t believe that Mrs. 1500 and I are two grown adults if you saw our bathroom. What is the theme you ask? Dinosaurs! Dinosaur trash can. Dinosaur soap dispenser. Dinosaur switchplate. Dinosaur wall hangings. Oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about tile. Here is how our shower turned out:
I rarely install tile the same way twice. I like to push myself a little every time. Those little white squares are really easy to put up and look nice enough, but that’s boring.
We used 12″ x 24″ porcelain tiles with glass/travertine strips to shake things up on the front and back. I thought that the huge tiles would be a good idea because their size results in less grout to take care of. However, I didn’t take into account the age of the house.
Nothing is ever straight and plumb in an old home. This place is no exception. Trying to install huge tiles on walls that aren’t perfect is a chore. More than once, I would put a tile up, only to have to take it down and play with the amount of thinset on the back. The tile work turned out pretty good, but took much longer than anticipated. OK, now here are the dinosaurs!
Using the same materials results in less waste, so we used the same tile in this bathroom. However, I installed it horizontally to mix things up a bit.
I also created a shower pan using MMM’s method (post about this coming later). It was a challenge to get the angles correct for proper drainage, but it wasn’t that difficult. Like anything else in life, take your time, proceed carefully and you’ll be OK.
Besides many, many loose ends, we have one more bathroom to remodel. Similar to the kitchen we remodeled last year, I plan to do the majority of work over 4 days. My goal is to show you that a remodel that would cost $10,000 can be done over a long weekend by an amateur for about $1000 in materials. Here is how I’ll attack it:
- Day 1 (demolition day): We’ll tear all everything out down to the studs. The old tile will come out too. We’ll hang new drywall and tape/mud it. This will be a long day.
- Day 2: Second round of mudding. Install new tub. Start tiling.
- Day 3: Third round of mudding (I’m not very good). Finish tiling.
- Day 4: Install vanity, grout tile.
Posts and railing
We have ugly support posts in front of the house. I want to wrap them in stone to give the home a craftsman look. I’ve never done this before, but how hard can it be?
Finally, I need to install a railing. Our 2nd floor is a broken neck waiting to happen:
I was all set to buy a conventional railing system when Mrs. 1500 stumbled upon a great idea; why not build a bookcase there instead? I have a soft spot for books, but our house is small and we don’t have a lot of room. I’d much rather have a place to store some of our books than some fancy balusters.
This is our first hack at a basic design:
I also consulted with Mr. Frugalwoods who came up with this:
I haven’t decided which way to build it yet, but it is going to be a fun project. Again, I’ve never done this before, but how hard can it be?
Before children, Mrs. 1500 and I would crank through remodels. We’d get home from out 8-5 jobs, scarf down dinner and then work until midnight. We would get huge amounts of work done very quickly. With children, everything moves at the pace of lazy sloth. You steal 20 minutes here and there and that is it. I don’t like to work this way, but unless we ship our children to boarding school, there is no other way.
However, the house is almost done. The cosmetic work is almost all that is left and I find that the most fun. Now that we have 3 working toilets, the pressure is off. Literally.
We moved in June of 2013. It won’t be quite finished at the two year mark this June, but it should be 95% there. That remaining 5% will wait while I enjoy the summer.
How about you? What projects do you have planned?
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